On opening day in 1937, the San Francisco Chronicle referred to the Golden Gate Bridge as “a $35 million steel harp.” But through the years, the engineering marvel has grown into the Bay Area’s shining symbol and signature landmark. We look back at the history of the span and discuss its architectural significance.

Kevin Starr, professor of history at the University of Southern California and author of "Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge"
Mary Currie, public affairs director for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

  • Jon in Mountain View

    The statue of Straus with blue print rolls under his arm at the Toll Plaza is a fraudulent misreprsentation that he designed the bridge. Straus was not the designer nor chief engineer. The bridge was designed by an engimeering professer from Purdue. Straus deserves credit for gettingthe bridge through the political process but not the design.

  • Robert Starkey
  • Lew

    What a contrast!
    Forum went from discussing a speculative boondoggle concerning a service of dubious value (Facebook), to reviewing a majestic, public-funded bridge that’s as enigmatic as the Eiffel Tower yet provides real value every day.

    • Lew

       Actually not enigmatic, it’s emblematic.

  • Amanda Ivey

    When I first arrived here in the US in 1975, from Manila Philippines, the first thing I wanted to do was cross the Golden Gate Bridge.  It made me feel like, “I have arrived!”

  • Phillipshgp

    In Lisbon Portugal there is a bridge that looks just like the Golden Gate Bridge 
    I have been told that it had the same architect.  True or not??   Helen

  • Daniela

    To me, one of the main reasons why the Golen Gate Bridge is so beautiful is its orange color – complementary color to the blue sky. Most other bridges are dull and grey. Who is to thank for this brilliant choice of color?

    • mc

       as i understand it, the orange hue was an accident — something to do with a treatment done to the metal so it could survive transit? but then the color as adopted and it’s now painted orange

  • Coleman Horn

    I believe it’s time for an update on the lighting that illuminates the towers.. I have read that it was a gift from PGE, but illuminating the towers with the cheapest lighting available, the orange sodium glow, is no way to honor this landmark. While traveling the world and and seeing other ways to illuminate architectural gems, the current state of the lighting on our gem is left wanting. The random half lit orbs at the spans look tatty, and the under lighting is not even.  I know there is cost involved, but step it up PGE, it’s time to update your gift.. Maybe with some more power efficient lighting, (LED?) you could pay for the cost of the new install in power saved. 

  • Lew

    Regarding the bridge in Portugal, it’s a copy of the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate and was made by the same company that did the Bay Bridge.

  • Oscar

    My first memories of the bridge are those of just the top part of both towers. When I first got to San Francisco to visit my wife (girlfriend back then) in August 2000, it took me 3 days to see the whole bridge from the city because of the fog. I think the fog is one of the most beautiful “feature” of the bridge.

  • Ottertrail38

    Is it true that the very short stature of the head engineer is responsible for the diminutive rail height?

  • Jon

    Per discussion now about WW2 soldiers passing underneath the bridge on the way to the Pacific Theater, I had the chance to take a tour boat with my father who said it was only his first time doing so since doing so on a troop ship.

  • Grace Rogers

    This may not be the right KQED forum via which to express this, but the Marin Symphony just had a fabulous program premiering a piece called “the Golden Gate Opus (2011) written by Rob Kapilow tellling the history of the GG bridge in music.  It was fabulous, listanable to many “ears”, and performed with heart by the Marin Symphony.  It is a mystery to me why it doesn’t get more media attention — and this includes the Marin IJ — at this momenteous time in the history of the Golden Gate.  Grace Rogers

    • Justtobeisablessing

      I heard that KQED is playing Chrysopylae (by Rob Kapilow and Fred Newman) on Sunday, May 27th  Is this happening?

  • Youngmx

    Sidney M. Hauptman was my grandfather.  Not necessarily a good claim to fame.

     August 14, 1933: The McCormick Steamship Line’s Sidney M. Hauptman, outbound to Portland, plowed through the thick fog and crashed into the newly completed access trestle extending 1,100 feet out into the Golden Gate Strait waters from the San Francisco shore, ready to start construction of the San Francisco tower fender.

  • Rich W

    About 10 or 15 years ago I was on a boat trip through the Gate and saw a great deal of spalled concrete and rusted steel rebar on the west side of the S.F. anchorage.  I’ve come to learn that this is inevitable with steel reinforcement, because of moisture penetration into the concrete.  The concrete has been patched or repaired since then, but I wonder how serious the damage is to the remaining rebar.  The damage looked very serious at the time.  Rich W

  • I´m brazilian. The Golden gate is the most beatiful bridge.

  • Villageattab

    My best wishes to you, O Golden gem is to keep you young and beautiful, away from those crocodile tears that fein to care for the suicidal who jump from your flanks.  They want to fence you, to ugly you, to make you boring.  May the City by You protect you.

  • Jean0107

    Best wishes to you !

  • Gabriel Roybal

    watched from the roof of UCSF. luckily the fog stayed away.

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